THE BOYCOTT OF THE OPENING OF THE PERFUME BOUTIQUE IN THE "THE HOUSE OF EXECUTIO
ACTION Moscow, RUSSIA
ACTION Moscow, RUSSIA
ACTION Moscow, RUSSIA
Chief Creative Officer
Senior Art Director
Why is this work relevant for PR?
We have achieved a great historical result due to a powerful PR effect. We hopped that strong ideological symbol could attract people’s and media’s attention and we can say that government and the owner of the building was forced to give up because of media publications' power.
Today, Russian government is restoring the cult of Stalin.
According to a pan-national survey, 46% of Russians aged 18-24 have never heard about mass repressions in the USSR. And 70% of responders "rather positively" rate Stalin's role in the country's history.
One of the symbols of Stalinist terror — “The House of executions” at Nikolskaya, 23 (in which 31,456 people were shot dead) has been sold to a businessman on familiar terms with the government. He decided to open there a perfume boutique in 2019. Most Russians did not know anything about that because government tried to do everything quietly.
When “Novaya Gazeta” - the leading oppositional newspaper - has learned about the fact, it decided to declare about this terrible intention as loud as possible. Our main goal was to change the future of the house, create public awareness and call to boycott any commercial use of the building.
Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)
Our idea was to create a provocative symbol of today's blasphemous reality, when a luxury perfume boutique is to be opened in a building where 31,456 people were shot and more people sentenced to death. The project reveals this terrifying contrast: perfume N23 with the smell of gunpowder.
On the one hand, a premium packaging, on the other hand, a bed of soil from the Kommunarka execution yard inside.
And a vial on the soil: a real vintage Soviet shell case filled with N23 perfume. A fragrance based on real events. With the smell of gunpowder.
Describe the PR strategy (30% of vote)
Our strategy was to create a vivid symbol of this insane act of vandalism to mobilize both public opinion and influential people who can change the fate of the building.
So we defined our target audience:
1)The owner of the building, major businessmen and the Moscow government.
2) Leading domestic and international media (as a tool to reach the first audience)
3) The wide public not indifferent to the historical memory of Russia. (as the energy that fills the project).
First of all, we have created a bright symbol which attracts attention. Than we have sent it to a few domestic and international media and opinion leaders. We did it in a special date – The Day of Remembrance for victims of political repressions. As a result, public and media outrage was so intense that the mayor's office and the owner of the building had to give up.
Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)
When "Novaya Gazeta" came with the brief it was only 10 days left before the 30th of October - The Day of Remembrance for victims of political repressions. So it was 10 days to create everything.
The project budget was 53,000 RUB (about 900 USD). This money was to produce 30 samples of N23, which were sent to top media.
We did a premium perfume packaging: a snow-white box with a soft-touch surface.
You expect the content to match the packaging.
But unfolding the paper, you see a handful of soil from the Kommunarka execution yard.
The Kommunarka execution yard is a mass grave site located not far from Moscow. It was used for the burial of people shot in the house at Nikolskaya 23.
A bed of soil holds a vial made from a vintage Soviet shell case.
The vial contains perfume with the smell of gunpowder.
List the results (30% of vote)
The result is - Great victory! The opening of the elite perfumery boutique VUM, scheduled for 2019, did not take place. More over the Moscow government agreed with the owner to open the memorial museum at Nikolskaya 23. (It is the latest news so this information is not represented in video case)
Many investors expressed interest in purchasing the building from the owner or to support future museum, including Andrey Kostin, president of Russia's second-largest bank, VTB (Mr. Kostin officially announced that he will support the future musem).
All of this has become possible due to public outrage.
With a budget of 900 USD we received about 200 media publications such as the BBC, The Times, Le Monde, El Pais and other media in 32 countries. The project was covered by many lifestyle media, including Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, and Esquire, which revealed the truth about the House of Executions to potential customers of the boutique. (Earned media value of USD 8 mln)
In the press release and in social networks we provided a web-link to Change.org* petition asking to support the stunt and sign it. . [*popular Russian platform for online voting for social, legal, civil and other changes]
46,000 people responded to our call.
Please tell us about the cultural insight that inspired the work
A society cannot move towards democracy and political freedoms until it learns the terrible lessons of the past.In today's Russia, opposition repeatedly faces prosecution and is subjected to tortures in prison while protests are violently repressed. That's why the government deliberately ignores Stalin’s crimes for political purposes. Some examples: the parliament is considering replacing Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's novel “The GULAG Archipelago” (the main work about repressions of the 30s) with the Bible in school curriculum. Numerous people, including government officials, lay floral tributes at Stalin’s grave on the day of his death every year. More and more people forget or even don't know about the crimes of this person. According to a pan-national poll by Levada-Сenter (a Russian sociological research organization) in 2019, 46% of Russians, aged 18-24, have never heard about mass repressions in the USSR. And 70% of responders "rather positively" rate Stalin's role in the country's history.